Devotions By Jan


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Swallows Day Parade

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 84:3 “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, My King and My God.”

The 60th annual Swallows Day parade takes place in San Juan Capistrano this weekend.  It is the largest non-motorized parade in the United States.  This event celebrates the return of the swallows from Argentina where they winter each year.  Parade spectators enjoy the festive ambience and a sense of community as local clubs, schools and associations participate.  There are dogs, wagons, horses, bands, dancers, and of course the pooper-scoopers at the end!  The only thing missing are the swallows, most of whom have unfortunately migrated further north to Chino Hills.

Today’s verse talks about the ideal place where the swallow builds her nest for herself and her family.  The swallow builds her nest near God’s altar.  When one thinks of a nest, there is the thought of comfort, care and protection.  A nest represents home and hearth.  The altar of God represents His presence and His dwelling is described as “lovely” (verse 1).  His altar is a place of adoration and worship and the one who dwells there is said to be blessed or happy.

My nest could be feathered very comfortably with all kinds of creature comforts.  But like the swallow in today’s verse, the most important component is God’s presence.  Far more important than open concept, decor or the latest appliances is enjoying the presence of my Lord God and King every day.  He has knocked on my door (Rev.3:20) and I want to make sure that my door remains open to Him!

Lord, may my home be marked by the happiness and peace I have in You!


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The Big “C”

Scripture for Today: Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

Tears flow as I write.  In just one short week my list of friends having to battle cancer has grown by two.  There are already too many on that list.  In this image, a woman remains calm and serene receiving the news from her oncologist.  I do not know her or her story but I am amazed at the thought that a diagnosis of cancer could be received without panic and tears.

Today’s verse is one of my life verses.  I wear it on a custom pendant.  It helps me to face an unknown future with confidence.  This psalm of David’s is in the context of warfare.  The “they” are the righteous or those in right standing with God.  The righteous will not be shaken and God honors them for their trust in Him.  Even in the darkest of times, light dawns on those who belong to Him. (verse 4)  There is no fear of bad news because hearts can remain steadfast and sure, trusting in God’s power and goodness.

The Lord wants me to live confidently, sure of His control in every situation.  If I ever hear the “C” word for myself, I know that in the end I am victorious!  His plans are good because He is good.  I may never understand the “why” behind pain and suffering, but I can always cling to His love and goodness.  “C” may stand for cancer, but it can also stand for “Confidence.”

Lord, keep my heart steadfast and confident in You.


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Napoleon’s Banner

Scripture for Today: Psalm 60:4 “But for those who fear You, You have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.”

This elaborate banner was a flag proudly carried by Napoleon Bonaparte’s Imperial Guard foot soldiers in 1813.  It is either an original or a very early reproduction.  Banners like these were normally carried on staffs capped with a  gilt bronze eagle to symbolize divine authority.  Unfortunately, the eagle finial for this one was stolen in 1990 from the museum housing it.  So much for divine authority!  The foot soldier appointed to carry this banner had to be someone recognized for their bravery as he was an obvious target for the enemy.

Today’s verse has a banner that has been raised by our God and does indeed denote divine authority!  It is raised for those that fear and obey Him.  Unlike those who were experiencing discipline in this psalm, God’s  faithful ones could depend on Him to save and help with His powerful right hand (verse 5).  Those who fear, respect and obey the Lord are in a battle for His cause; the cause of truth, justice and righteousness.

God has raised this banner for me.  How amazing for this puny foot soldier to be part of His plan!  Because He has raised it for me,  I know I will be victorious over enemies!  But I do need to unfurl it.  It is my identifying mark.  I want to unfurl His banner with confidence, standing for the truth of who Jesus is and the veracity and authority of His Word.  Regardless of possible negative attention, I never want to be ashamed of my Lord (II Tim. 1:8).  After all, He is not ashamed of me as His banner over me is love (Song of Songs 2:4).

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of standing up for You!

 

 

 

 

 


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Dove Flower

Scripture for Today: Song of Songs 21:11-12 “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”

Happy first day of Spring!  I would love to celebrate the advent of this  season with this stunning flower.  However, this elegant plant is more often found in South America, Panama, Costa Rica and Trinidad.  The orchid has several names including Flying Egret, Holy Ghost or Dove orchid.  This beautiful white flower does look very much like a dove in flight with its fringed petals.

Today’s verse celebrates the exit of winter and the entrance of Spring.  The winter rains are finished and the brown drab earth erupts in lovely flowers.  Moods change and singing is heard as well as the cooing of doves.  Spring is a time of new beginnings, new growth and hope!  God shows His kindness to all men by sending rain, crops in their seasons, plenty of food and joy to our hearts (Acts 14:16-17).  To believers and scoffers alike, He is faithful in doing this as a testimony to who He is.

It would never even occur to me to doubt the coming of Spring, or the sun rising and setting, or the gravitational pull on our earth.  These are all things I tend to take for granted.  But that does not make them any less miraculous!  In recognizing His creative hand I can “join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”  He allows me to see His invisible qualities through what He has created (Rom.1:20).  My enjoyment of the seasonal changes is heightened when I realize the Source!  Rather than attributing nature to impersonal science, I can respond in praise to my Maker!

Thank you Lord for Spring!


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Leaky Roof

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 27:15-16 “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.”

This happened!  After a month-long absence I woke up to the sound of raining in my closet!  It is not that it was such a strong storm but our flat roof would not drain properly.  I called on God first.  Wailed, if truth be told.  Then I called my husband, a roofer and our insurance company.  Thankfully, the drips did not reach my clothes.  But it was maddening to hear the slow and constant dripping well after the rain had finished.

Today’s verse describes a quarrelsome wife like that constant drip.  Each complaint from her lips and each nagging session can be as annoying as those continual drops of water.  Because the verse is speaking of a wife, one can assume the description comes from the husband.  In contrast to the Proverbs 31 wife who speaks with wisdom (Prov. 31:26), this wife provokes argument with what comes out of her mouth.  She speaks her mind without any self-restraint.  Any attempt at correcting her is as futile as restraining wind or grasping slippery oil.

Being quarrelsome can seem quite reasonable and even expected after a hard day.  When taking care of the needs of others means lost sleep or when the toilet backs up, a bit of nasty temper seems just the thing to blow off steam.  When pressure builds, it is often on those closest to me that I unload.  The danger for me is that being contentious can too easily become a habit.  I would much rather be characterized by a quiet gentle spirit, making me consistently approachable!

Lord, keep me sweet and peaceable despite my circumstances.